Have you crossed an S&OP silo lately?

In the S&OP pulse checks I conducted in 2010, 2011 and 2012the organizational silos’ were chosen as a top 3 roadblock in implementing S&OP for 3 consecutive years. ‘Senior leadership support’ was the number one roadblock in all three years.

We do indeed feel more comfortable in our own silo and vertical reporting line. It seems that’s just how we are. Working horizontally across the silos doesn’t come naturally to most of us and is often avoided. Whatever the root causes are, S&OP maturity clearly suffers, as I also point out in my last blog:

  •  Gartner found in 2010 that 67% of companies can’t get further then step two from their four step maturity model.
  • An Oliver Wight white paper on the transition from S&OP to IBP tells us that most companies ‘get stuck in between Stage 2 and Stage 3’ from a four stage model.
  • According to a 2012 ebook from Kinaxis, most companies are stuck in step 1 and 2 in Larry Lapide’s four step model
  • A 2013 Supply Chain Insight report tells us that 57% companies don’t get further then stage 2 of a 5 stage maturity model
  • In the book Bricks Matter, we can read that ‘36% of companies’ S&OP processes are stalled or are moving slowly’.


All these different ways to define S&OP maturity tell us one thing; S&OP seems to get stuck in early stages. Core reasons are because we don’t cross the silos proactively and effectively and because of senior leadership support.

Crossing a silo comfortably and operate in another functional area is not part of everybody’s capability. And crossing silos will not just happen because of external motivators, aligned KPI’s, or senior leaders. Some people cross silos by nature, some will do it with help of external motivators, some with training or coaching and some just will never do it. Once organizations understand this, they can target employees with a combination of insight, coaching and motivators and create critical mass of people that want to cross silos. But we have to be careful not to conclude that organizational silos are only a result because of a lack of senior leadership support. We can’t just wait for the leaders of the organization to take the lead. We have to take ownership and lead ourselves. Crossing the silo starts with your personal mindset and every S&OP practitioner therefore has to look inside themselves and ask some tough questions:

  1. Have I crossed a silo lately?
  2. Do I naturally cross silos and build relations with other functions?
  3. Do I know what motivates the other silo? Do I know their main issues and their basic expectation?
  4. Do I wait for senior leaders to cross silos and lead the way or do I start myself?
  5. Am I externally motivated by senior leaders or rewards, or am I intrinsically motivated to cross silos, because it’s the right thing to do?
  6. Do I show below the line – problem and blame driven behaviour- or above the line -solution driven – behaviour when I talk about other silos?

First create some self awareness by asking yourself these questions. After your self assessment, ask some feedback in your silo, to check if that is the way other people I your function perceive you. Then ask feedback in a save environment across silos.

You might be in for a surprise, but it is the only way to break down the silos yourself!

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